To prevent the spread of Covid_19 many of Tokyo’s annual Christmas light festivals (more commonly known as illuminations in Japan) have been cancelled this year but there are still a few taking place, and this one in Bunkyo Ward may well have the happiest tree of this holiday season.
Coronavirus hasn’t prevented Tokyo Dome City from displaying winter illuminations for the 16th time. A total of two million LEDs have been used throughout the complex which features the baseball stadium, an amusement park, a sports arena, a spa, a fitness centre, a bowling centre, shops, cafes (including Moomin Bakery & Cafe), restaurants (Bubba Gump Shrimp is here and smiley-themed menus are supposedly available at some of them) and a hotel. For the record, it is completely free to wander around the area but of course the rides (including a roller-coaster that passes through both a hole in one of the buildings) have a fee.
Most of the above had closed for the day when I passed through the area a week ago on the way home from work. This year’s theme is “smile” with the centrepiece being a 15 metre tall tree decorated with 5000 glittering smiley face ornaments. It’s pretty cool with the reflection in the water and the Big O Ferris wheel in the background.
Personally, the iconic yellow and black smiley face symbol always reminds me of the acid house movement of the late 80s and early 90s, particularly the Bobby McFerrin classic ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy‘ (1988). Whether or not there’s actually any proper connection I don’t know but that’s the link I’ve always had in my head! I certainly remember wanting to buy badges, stickers and clothing with the face on it but I think I had to just settle for drawing my own!
That wasn’t all though as there were some luminous champagne gold lights on the trees and plants lining the pathway that took me to my next location five minutes to the north. My destination was a 140-meter-long corridor of lights known as the Milky Way which was last present in the area a couple of years ago.
This is perhaps a more impressive sight than the smiley tree and as you wander through it the lights change colours. The never-ending glow is quite the spectacle, and a great place for the Instagram generation to get their shots. My photography skills are a little lacking though but I tried my best to capture it!
The Christmas theme continued on the way home as I passed a couple of snowmen but these weren’t real. They were just the inflatable kind placed outside shops to greet customers including a couple of the big convenience stores chains.
Click here to read ‘The Little Known German Park In Tokyo (+ Memories Of My Time Living & Working In Hamburg)’
Click here to read ‘Dining Out: Moomin Bakery & Cafe (Finland)’
Click here to read ‘Dining Out: Bubba Gump Shrimp Restaurant’